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"We Are Grand Canyon" Film

This moving film welcomes visitors to Grand Canyon National Park from those who have called it home since time immemorial – the 11 Grand Canyon tribal communities.

We Are Grand Canyon James Uqualla

Vision for an Alternate Narrative

If you’ve visited Grand Canyon over the last 10 years, you may have noticed changes to interpretive signs and names of places, changes that now more accurately reflect the canyon’s cultural significance. This transformation was spearheaded by the Intertribal Working Group (ItWG), a collaborative effort between Grand Canyon’s 11 tribal communities and National Park Service staff. Since its inception in 2013, the ItWG has been dedicated to amplifying Indigenous narratives connected to Grand Canyon, which have long been overshadowed.

Part of this endeavor is the development of a 24-minute film that serves as an alternate “welcome video” for the South Rim Visitor Center. To broaden the current narrative that predominantly focuses on John Wesley Powell's exploration and geology of the canyon, the ItWG envisioned a video that centers the Indigenous relationship to Grand Canyon since time immemorial. 

The production process began with a group discussion with ItWG followed by individual interviews with ItWG members to explore the themes, messaging, and scenes they wanted to incorporate into the film. ItWG wanted to make sure all the cultural groups connected to the canyon were represented, and that the film acknowledged the park's troubled history with Indigenous communities while celebrating contemporary connections to the park. Crucially, ItWG wanted to educate visitors on why this is a sacred place that should be respected and revered by all.

To execute this vision, the team brought on Ryan Christensen from Bristlecone Media. Christensen has worked extensively with tribal partners on previous productions and collaborated closely with ItWG, GCC, and park staff on this new production.

Through "We Are Grand Canyon," the 11 Grand Canyon tribal communities extend a heartfelt invitation to all who visit this sacred place – directly from the people who call this land home, who have been here for millennia, and are still here. A special thank you to all the tribal members who participated in making this film. 

This project was funded by Grand Canyon Conservancy and made possible thanks to generous donor support.

"We Are Grand Canyon" can be seen at the top of each hour at the Visitor Center Theater at the Grand Canyon's South Rim.

"We Are Grand Canyon" Film

Ophelia Watahomigie-Corliss

Havasupai Tribe

“I hope that the visitor leaves curious, wondrous, and ready to ground truth. This film is the first step in that ground truthing. I hope it causes viewers to visit these tribes in person. To support these tribes economically. To remember that respect is always the way forward.”

Ron Wadsworth

Hopi Tribe

“Participating in this film granted me great opportunity to bring our Hopi ancestral knowledge of the Grand Canyon, our home, our sanctuary, to the forefront.”

Jan Balsom

Chief, Communications, Partnerships & External Affairs Grand Canyon National Park

“While the welcome video marks a significant milestone, it's just the beginning for reimagining first voice interpretation at Grand Canyon. The film is a very tangible and public commitment to the goals we’ve set out to provide the voice for Indigenous people of the area. We are demonstrating through actions the commitments we have made. So many agencies and entities talk a good line with little or no follow up. We are demonstrating the actions to match our words.”

Ed Keable

Superintendent Grand Canyon National Park

“Grand Canyon Conservancy’s commitment to the preservation and celebration of Indigenous first voice interpretation is unparalleled. Their support has been instrumental in bringing “We Are Grand Canyon” to fruition, and we are deeply grateful for their partnership.”